I should say before I start—there is a reason why I don’t usually blog about politics. It’s not normally something I feel strongly about. But right now a thought is welling up within me—something I suspect many people are feeling and few are willing to ask:
Is it time for the Labour Party to fire their new leader and our prime minister?
There — I’ve asked the unthinkable. Although, of course, since I am not a Labour MP, nor even a member or committed supporter of any political party, there is nothing I can do to bring about Brown’s downfall, other than perhaps write this post. But if you are a Labour MP reading this post, all I can say to you is perhaps you need to ask yourself, “Is it time to consider putting country before party, and begin to explore the possibility of changing your leader?” All it would take is the confidence to stand up to him. I’m sure many of you must be wondering why none of you had the courage to stand against him in a true leadership election. That surely was Brown’s first mistake—not ensuring that there was a true open contest for the leader’s chair.
When I wrote a post last month entitled “The Beginning of the End for Brown?” I certainly did not expect to see what we have seen since then. I must stress that I am not a committed Tory supporter, and am not even sure that David Cameron would do a vastly better job. Rather, I am beginning to feel that for the good of the nation, and for the good of Brown’s increasingly long and persecuted-looking face, it’s time to draw this more swiftly to the conclusion we know is coming. I still remember the look of relief on Major’s face when he lost the election to Blair. I genuinely don’t think it’s going to do Brown much good to hang on, and more importantly than that, I’m starting to have serious doubts about what this is going to do to our nation.
In the short months since Brown took over from our properly elected Prime Minister, Tony Blair, let’s look at the catalouge of errors, and in particular the indecision we have seen from Brown.
- We saw the foot-and-mouth crisis handled badly, with premature declarations that we were “free” of the illness, and allowing the lab that leaked the virus to go on working, resulting this past week in an astonishing second leak. A decisive leader would have shut the lab down and ensured that such labs did not work next to farms again.
- In the Northern Rock fiasco, we saw early dithering about whether to bail the bank out or let it go bust. It seems we, the taxpayer, have now loaned up to perhaps a staggering 30 billion to this bank. I can only assume that much of this has gone on enabling Northern Rock to repay loans made by other banks who should have known better. Surely there may well be other banks at risk. The extension of the ad hoc “savings guarantee” to all bank deposits in the UK suggests this might be the case. In the meantime we still don’t know what is going to happen to Northern Rock. A decisive leader would have either let the bank go bust or simply nationalized it. To allow this drain on the public finances, which now exceeds the primary school budget, to continue to grow is inexcusable. We have even been told that the loans might be illegal under EU law! To preside over the first run on a UK bank in 150 years is both shameful and obviously preventable and predictable (e.g. up front offering the savings guarantee but no loan, for example). What is shocking is that so many other crises are ongoing that this latest growth in the bank’s national debt barely gets a mention. A decisive leader might have seen this crisis coming and prevented it, or could have acted in a much clearer way from the beginning instead of what is now shameful and dangerous indecision.
- Brown has presided—the most damaging of all of the above for Brown personally as it happened in his old department—over the biggest data security breach I suspect has ever occurred anywhere in world history. Brown expects us to believe that the system he approved to be put in place allowed a junior official to simply download the names, addresses, phone numbers, and bank accounts of every child in the UK and their parents. If that is so, then he should resign in shame for that alone. It is simply unbelievable. I suspect that it also isn’t quite true, as Nick Robinson hints in his sharing of an email trail with us. A decisive leader would have never allowed a careless culture to arise, and would have called in the police to investigate what was surely a breach of the law.
- Brown has also, by his own admission, presided over a Labour Party which broke the law flagrantly over voter donations. He has not looked too good in refusing to initially call in the police, and in almost trying to blame his deputy in the whole “I know nothing about this man” bit. A decisive leader would have either demanded the head of his deputy before making his announcement or wholeheartedly supported her. Also, what kind of party is so casual about its fund raising?
Surely any one of these things would be enough to bring down the CEO of a company that had failed us all so badly. This is our government. None of these crises are in one sense massive—if we were to face a more serious situation, I would be very concerned indeed. Yet all of them have been made worse, not better, by our Prime Minister and his government. Am I the only one who thinks it is Brown himself who should resign?
One thing I forgot to mention was picked up by the BBC yesterday. The deathly power of humour to a politician. Here’s what they said: they first quoted from Vince Cable the following devestating put-down about Brown.
The prime minister had been transformed, he said, from “Stalin into Mr Bean.”
The PM’s face fell.
Opposition MPs fell about.
Quite a few Labour members struggled not to do the same.
The truly worrying thing, from the Brownite perspective is that, just now, a man who’s worked hard to establish strength, sound judgement and deadly seriousness as his defining characteristics seems to be in danger of becoming a figure of fun. . . .
Tony Blair was generally despised or admired.
Margaret Thatcher was often both, at once.
I cannot remember an exquisitely delivered one-liner hitting home against either of them in quite the same way as we saw this week
Other blogs and main stream media are also strongly criticizing Brown this weekend. This includes the following:
What possessed Gordon Brown to declare, before he had the least reason to know it to be true, that there was one individual alone, Labour’s general secretary, who knew about the fake donors just as the media began unearthing all the others, and, as I write, are still unearthing? Didn’t that great strategist, that colossus of a political intellect, pause for a moment to wonder whether there might be more to come out?
In what stunted imagination but Mr Brown’s could the plan then be hatched to make Harriet Harman the scapegoat for receiving, on Mr Brown’s own lieutenant’s advice, a sum representing less than 1 per cent of the total monies paid by David Abrahams? To what bully’s mind but Mr Brown’s could it fail to occur that if he kicked her in the stomach she might defend herself?”
Another government data breach has been revealed. This is just unbelievable!